Patience & Complaint

December 16, 2013

Be patient.

James 5.7

Patience is the virtue held high esteem in virtually every religious tradition: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. And it is a key characteristic of holding and having hope. It is about:

–       accepting delay peacefully

–       remaining calm through disappointments

–       not getting annoyed with distractions

–       not getting angry about problems

Beyond that, and more significantly, it’s all about endurance through difficulty and adversity.

Now we always admire patience in other people.

And we often lose it ourselves. I am a very impatient person. And I really don’t want to be patient. So the Bible is speaking to all of us when it says:

See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.

You too must be patient.

James 5.7

A farmer in that region of the world needs to exercise quite a lot of patience. He has to be patient before he plants his crops; waiting for the early rain to come so that the ground is hospitable enough to receive the seed. He can’t just plant whenever he wants.

There is a kind of patience you need (and so do I) when you actively wait. It’s when you know you need to do something, you need to act, but it is all in the timing.

  • It is waiting for the right time to have the conversation you need to have with your boss and not doing it when he is in a bad mood.
  • It’s looking for the best opportunity to pull the trigger on the deal and not do it impulsively
  • It’s allowing the relationship to develop and mature in its natural course and not trying to rush things.
  • It’s continuing to look for the right house or the right job and not take something you’re not really sure of.
  • It’s your disciplined study before the test, or practice before the game.

But then there is another kind of patience. After the farmer plants he has to wait for the late rains that bring growth and maturity. Likewise there is a kind of patience we have to cultivate that is passive. It’s when we have to wait for our work to produce and bear fruit.

Instead of being patient we often choose to do something else, that is much easier. That’s why James says: 

Don’t complain.

James 5.9

Complaint is the expression of impatience and dissatisfaction. I’ve been the recipient of more than my share of complaints over the years, and I can tell you it never feels good. And it’s unattractive. And largely unproductive, it doesn’t fix or solve anything. This week instead of complaining, be patient. You’ll be happier.


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